Gove: British Jews Should Never Have to Live in Fear Again After Corbyn Defeat

Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain's opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-semitism in the Labour party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London on March 26, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Tolga AKMEN (Photo credit should read TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Brexit minister Michael Gove has said that British Jews should “never have to live in fear again” after the crushing defeat of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party in Thursday’s General Election.

Addressing a rally in Surrey Heath after reelection to his constituency, Mr Gove said: “I also want to say something to a very special group of people, our Jewish friends and neighbours.”

“You have had to live in fear — for months, now — with concerns we will have a prime minister who trafficked in anti-Jewish rhetoric and embraced anti-Jewish terrorists. You should never have to live in fear again.”

“Today, we celebrate a victory for the British people. They comprehensively rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s politics,”  the senior minister added.

Labour had seen a rise in antisemitism since Corbyn took over the party in 2015. In May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that it had opened an investigation into the Labour Party over allegations of anti-Jewish hatred and that the upper echelons of the party had mishandled accusations of antisemitism.

This week, 70 current and former Labour staff provided testimony to the Jewish Labour Movement, which is proving the EHRC with evidence, alleging that Corbyn’s office was actively interfering in antisemitism allegations and making recommendations on disciplinary actions.

One victim had detailed they had received 22 instances of antisemitic abuse online and in person at the hands of Labour members and at party events, describing being called “Zio scum” and a “child killer”, as well as being told that “Hitler was right”.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a U.S.-based Jewish human rights organisation, placed Corbyn and Labour at the top of their list of threats to Jewish people in 2019. The centre said: “No-one has done more to mainstream antisemitism into the political and social life of a democracy than the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party.”

It added: “Members and staff who have dared to speak out against the hate were purged, but not those who declared ‘Heil Hitler’ and ‘F*** the Jews’.”

Taking the unusual step to enter the political fray, the UK’s chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said that Corbyn was “unfit for office” because of the role he played in allowing antisemitism to take root in the Labour Party.

Rabbi Mirvis wrote in The Times: “How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be, to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.”

As a result of the hostile atmosphere towards Jewish people in Labour, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research said this week that Jews had “deserted” the party.

“First, the party has lurched to the left; and second, the party has failed to understand or recognise how antisemitism manifests itself in leftist politics and as a result allowed it to fester and grow,” Jewish Policy Research executive director Jonathan Boyd said.

A poll conducted in October found that just six per cent of British Jews said they were intending to vote for Labour compared to 64 per cent who said they planned to vote Conservative. The poll for Jewish News also revealed the profoundly tragic sentiment that nearly half, 47 per cent, of British Jews said they would “seriously consider” emigrating if Jeremy Corbyn won.

Labour suffered its worst election defeat since 1935, with Mr Corbyn announcing that he would not be standing as party leader at the next general election. In reaction, the “close ally” of Corbyn and former Labour London mayor Ken Livingstone — who has a history of making antisemitic comments and was suspended from the party — blamed Jewish people for Labour’s defeat, saying on Friday morning: “The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful.”

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